With Barack Obama and Joe Biden committed to ending the war in Iraq, some wonder why men and women still join the service while others choose to serve our country generation after generation.
To the Rush family of Wills Point, serving our country comes naturally.
William E. Rush, Jr., known around town as PaBill, was born and raised in Terrell and began his military journey at the age of 17. In 1945, his decision to join the armed forces was encouraged by his childhood friend.
As Rush was walking home from the grocery store one Sunday afternoon, he was unaware that his life would soon change. His friend stopped him and asked him to join the navy.
“We walked to the cemetery, taking our time and hoping one of us would back down,” Rush said.
As they hitched a ride to Dallas, completely clueless as to where they were going, they found the place and signed.
In September 1945, Rush was deployed to Hiroshima in the Naval Amphibious Forces and began his life as a soldier. Two years later, he joined the army.
In 1991, his daughter Sharon Collins decided to follow in her father’s footsteps and join the Army.
“There was no need to join because there wasn’t a war at the time,” Rush said. “But she called me one evening, no training at all, and said she was being shipped out for the Gulf War.”
Two of Rush’s grandchildren, Justin and Josh, had planned to join Operation Iraqi Freedom, but changed their minds.
“I decided it was not for me, and I didn’t want to go fight a war when I was only 19,” Josh said. “I signed up twice: took a physical the first time, and swore in the second, but still backed out. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life,” Josh said.
Josh’s final statement made everything clear.
“Seriously,” he said. “I was scared.”
Maybe it is easier to join today than it was 50 years ago. According to Rush, determination and patriotism was more the reason for men in 1945.
“I hate to say it, but it’s the truth that the youth was more patriotic,” Rush said. “We didn’t even know where Pearl Harbor was. We thought it was on the other side of Dallas. We just wanted to serve.”
Over the course of his 22-year military career Rush served in three different wars: WWII, Korean, and Vietnam. To him, WWII was the most traumatizing.
Trying to recall most memories, sweat started beading from his forehead and caused him to stare blankly into the distance. The gleam in his eye could let one know the truth: wars are different now.
“With the new technology and weaponry we have today, if we had to re-enact Hiroshima from 1945, I don’t think there would be any more wars,” Rush said.